Amy J. Murphy

Author of the Allies and Enemies series.

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Spin City, Baby

I don’t remember doing this. (That’s one of the charming side effects of life with ADD.) But I guess I submitted a copy of  Allies and Enemies: Fallen to the Midwest Book Review.

How do I know this? Yesterday, I got an email from their editor telling me my book is included in their February issue of MBR Bookwatch.

Yay! Right? Err…. maybe?

While I am grateful for the coverage (MBR has a pretty solid reputation), it’s not the most glowing missive. It does produce some pretty nice “sound bites”. In our present world of spin doctoring and fake news, it’s a boon of sorts. However, I do have to recognize that it’s the opinion of one person. Like a Jackson Pollock or one of those weird 3D prints from the 90s, not everyone is going to see the same thing. Consider

Consider The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This book is beautifully written and seamless. This is my favorite book. I look to it for inspiration in writing style. But the subject matter is easy to consider depressing. I mean, it is the story of an oppressed woman, Ofglen. A lot of terrible things have happened to her and continue to happen to her. That’s the 20,000-foot view. Look lower, under that cloud layer, and you see the so much more than that. You see a spirit that refuses to be shaped by her new reality, a warning, a cautionary tale, a disconnected love story. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not comparing myself to Atwood. She’s got the 120 pack of crayons with the built-in sharpener on the box. I have the cheapo pack of 3 that they give you with the kid’s menu at Denny’s. My point is everyone has different viewpoints.

“…a solid SF tale. It has a nice layered storyline with a relatively fast paced plot… Fallen has everything you would want in a SF suspense space opera.” [Midwest Review]

So do I imagine hearing the above “sound bite” in some gritty movie trailer voice? You bet. 🙂 Will I take the full review’s comments to heart? Not sure. But it did give me pause to reflect on the nature of professional reviews and the roles they play in the world of self-publishing. They’re meant to help potential readers make a decision about what book they want to read next.

In the same vein, does the phrase “New York Times Bestseller” compel someone on Amazon to pick that book over another? Or does it simply place that book in a higher spot of prominence so that the consumer is less likely to dig deeper beyond the first few results? Personally, before I got wrapped up in this indy publishing journey, I never really noticed the “NY Times” bannered books. But then… that’s just me.


Book Three Coming Soon!

Your wait for book three is drawing to a close.

I’m very happy to say that the third book in the series Allies and Enemies: Exiles is going to be available very soon. My stalwart editor is hard at work doing her thing to my manuscript. Before long I should be hard at work putting her edits into action. Then it’s ebook city, baby!

There are other authors out there that seem to churn out a book a month. I am not one of those, try as I might. However, in my defense, I will say that my first book took ten years to write, so I think I’ve shown incredible improvement if you’re judging current me against my prior glacial record. I have learned a valuable lesson when it comes to writing a series: Finish all three books first.

Here’s a sneak peak at the cover art created by the fantastic Alex Winkler. Look for pre-order on Allies and Enemies: Exiles in the days ahead exclusively on Amazon.

It’s not too late to sign up to receive an advance reader copy (ARC) of Exiles a week before the book is released into the wild. All I ask in return is your honest feedback on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Click here to sign up.



Write a @$%*! Author Bio, already.

dogYou stare at the blank screen. The little cursor is blinking away—you swear it’s mocking you.

You have to be witty, charming, appealing. You have to write your author bio.

Sure, you can talk about your book for hours, but when it’s time to talk about you, your muse clams up and slinks off to a desolate corner of your little mental cocktail party or maybe goes to bury herself under the thick pile of winter coats in the master bedroom.

You need a good author bio. It may seem unimportant: why would anyone care if you live in Montana? You write about Vikings for cryin’ out loud.

Believe it or not, there are readers out there that actually want to know about you. It’s your chance to make a connection with your readers. Also, you need one for your website, your book jacket, and your Amazon author page (and don’t forget Goodreads). It doesn’t have to be an arduous task. You can have a bit of fun with it. (And, it’s ok to make stuff up—kinda. Just check out Peter Clines’ bio. You’ll see what I mean.)

There are few tips on writing your bio. Maybe they’ll help you come up with a really entertaining one:

  1. Keep it brief. It doesn’t need to be War and Peace. Aim for 200 to 250 words. Some spots limit you to 50 (ie a by-line).
  2. Use third person to talk about yourself and present tense whenever possible. ( ie. “John likes to scavenge thrift shops in his spare time for vintage bowling shirts.”
  3. Be relevant. Try to zero in on facts about yourself that make your expertise relevant to the subject matter of your books. For instance, if you write about genetic engineering run amok with killer species of watermelon, you might want to share that you’ve got a Ph. D. in genetics.
  4. Here’s your chance to tell people how awesome you are when it comes to writing. Were you a finalist in a literary contest? Did you book rank in the top 100 on Goodreads in the “underwater basket-weaving category”? Great. Throw it in there.

If you’re still not feeling it, here are some great author bios that may inspire you:

Peter Clines


Chuck Wendig


Steven Campbell



Have fun!

(Also, you might have noticed there’s no longer the ability to leave comments after posts. I disabled it. You can thank the porn-viagra spam bots for that.)

Meet Me At Arisia 2017

arisiaArisia, “New England’s Largest and Most Diverse Sci-Fi & Fantasy Convention” has just announced its programming for 2017 and I am delighted to be on two panels. Taking place from January 13 – 16, 2017 at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, this con seems to grow bigger every year. I’ve been attending religiously, but this is my first chance to be part of a panel as a legit author (the second panel is about costuming).

This year’s Guest of Honor is Ursula Vernon.

If you’re attending Arisia, why not stop by and say hi?

Marketing Your Book in a Digital Age
Faneuil (3W), 8:30am – 9:45am
Tracks: Writing
Types: Panel
Anna Erishkigal (moderator), Timothy Goyette, Constance Burris, Amy J. Murphy
Ebooks now constitute 30% of the book market, with some genres (such as romance) approaching 89%. How do you market these books? What opportunities does digital provide? What’s a reader magnet? And how do keywords make your book more visible? Come learn how to use MailChimp to build an email subscriber list, leverage your website, and reach out to readers without appearing spammy.


Don’t Blow Your Blurb

blurbYou’ve done all the heavy lifting (as in writing an 80,000 word novel). You’ve polished the prose, checked all your commas, formatted the ebook and even your roommate’s cat loves the cover art. For all intents and purposes, your ebook is ready to go.

But wait! You’ve got to write your book’s description for the Amazon listing. For some hellish reason, you’re expected to summarize your blood, sweat and tears into a concise, compelling paragraph that will convince would-be readers to buy your book. It’s your sales pitch. It’s all come down to this. This is the reader’s introduction to your work of art and it’s all up to this tiny little paragraph (or two). It’s probably the most important thing you’re going to write when it comes to your book. It hardly seems fair, does it?

How do you squeeze your book into a synopsis that sings? (Bear in mind, I’m speaking with writing book blurbs or short synopsis for fiction books.)

Here’s a handy formula to help make that blurb:

  1. Start with the situation. Describe it simply.
  2. Throw in a “but” (or a “however” or an “until”) Basically anything that implies that things are going along swimmingly until something throws a wrench into the works. This something creates a crisis or a crunch point.
  3. Introduce a means that offers hope to overcome the crisis. This should be an enticement to the reader.
  4. Consider the tone of the story. Is it meant to be humor? Horror? Dark dystopia? This is your chance to that flavor.

Here’s an example of a very familiar story:

The tyrannical Galactic Empire, under the command of the bloodthirsty Darth Vader, captures the beautiful and brave Princess Leia, leader of the Rebel Alliance. Thrust into the path of destiny, wide-eyed farm boy, Luke Skywalker joins forces with an enigmatic Jedi Knight to rescue the princess with the help of Han Solo, a dashing starship captain. Can the unlikely trio save the princess, rebellion and the galaxy from the Empire?

The irrepressible and talented Rachel Aaron (Bach) wrote the following post about constructing a worthwhile blurb. You should check it out here. (http://thisblogisaploy.blogspot.com/search?q=blurbs)

So, fellow indie authors, how do you tackle this daunting task? Do you have a method to this?

Readers, how does the book description affect your decision to buy an ebook? I’d love to hear from you.


Self-Editing or How to Keep Your Brain From Eating Itself


I got my edits back from my very patient and all too kind editor. And now is when the blood-letting starts. For me receiving my edits is a lot like report cards week at school—exciting and full of dread. You know you did your best, but you worry about any nasty surprises that may be in there. (Fun Fact: I got a D in typing my Freshman year. TYPING!!!! Can you believe it?!)

As writers, we are our own worst critics. We like to imagine the worst and allow that to feast on our brains. Any “nasty surprises” I dread would be things like finding out my astute editor has located a universe-ending plot hole that I never realize existed or that I change my main character’s name mid-story and didn’t realize it. But, hey, it happens. The question is how to tackle it in an efficient, brain-cell saving manner.

Here are some ideas on how to do your edits and avoid a brain meltdown: (*Note – I’m assuming that you’re using Word or a word-processing system that has a means to track changes here. And you’ve just got your edits back from your editor.)

s_c_b“Remember, short controlled bursts.” Define a beginning and an ending for each session of editing and stick to it. If you keep plugging along you’ll start to lose focus and get sloppy. Mistakes will slip through the cracks. Best to come back to it and view it with fresh eyes rather than muscle through.
average-joesAim low. Focus on the easy fixes: grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. That will clean up your screen and make it feel as if you’ve made some progress.


Broad strokes. If you come across any changes that affect the whole story, this is where the “Find and Replace” feature is your best friend. For instance, at the start of your story, you spelled your character’s name one way and then mid story got creative with the spelling. You can use Word’s Find and Replace (control + F) to hunt down all the misspelled instances and then replace them with the proper spelling.

rabbitholeAvoid the rabbit holes. When you work section by section with your edits, resist the urge to “jump around” to double check things. If you’re like me, you end up disappearing down another rabbit hole and losing the original thread of your revisions. If you do feel such an urge, scribble yourself a note on an index card or notebook as a reminder for later and then proceed with the edits to the section at hand.

Many editors and beta readers like to use “Comments” to communicate their edits. It’s a great way to keep all the thoughts and ideas together in one spot.

One of my favorite tools for editing and one that’s helped strengthen my writing skills is the Word Loss Diet by Rayne Hall. I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s part of her Writer’s Craft series, which is also a wealth of information. You can find Word Loss Diet for the ebook and at a great price too.

I hope these tips serve you well. How do you like to approach editing? Be sure to leave a comment below or share this post with others.

Happy Book Birthday!!!

ae_fallen_dcHard to believe it, but a year ago I published the first book in my space opera series, Allies and Enemies: Fallen!

As a way of saying thanks to all who have supported this endeavor, I’m listing the ebook for FREE on Amazon.

Stay tuned for exciting news on the next installment in the series, Allies and Enemies: Exiles!

Writing with ADD: the Pomodoro Technique


Writing with ADD: the Pomodoro Technique

Like many folks, it wasn’t until adulthood that I was diagnosed as an adult with ADD. With this discovery, a great many mysteries about my childhood (especially high school) were suddenly resolved. It explained my ability to “hyperfocus” on certain projects, becoming completely absorbed to the point of obsession while my attention would drift about erratically when it came to day-to-day events.

To this end, I believe it’s why it took me nearly 10 years to finish my first book. It’s why I can recall verbatim all the dialogue from movies or TV shows (that I like) after one viewing, or recite an article I read while in sixth grade about a tribe on Borneo. (They eat a soup made from soaking bird’s nests.) Those things landed in my “hyperfocus” window. (Not always exceptionally useful information, I admit.)

By the time I’d learned about my ADD, I’d already had a lot of “work arounds” for life in general. I used lists and “rituals” for daily living to make constant distraction easier to combat.

This past month while recovering from a workplace-related injury, I had a lot of time on my hands to write. However, I wasn’t getting it done. I’d write a few paragraphs and then disappear down some rabbit hole, only to re-emerge hours later wondering where the day went.

I discovered a method to help me train my focus on writing called the Pomodoro Technique. I first saw it referenced in one of the many, many ebooks I’ve purchased about increasing writing speed. I can write quickly—that’s not the problem. My problem was actual “butt in the chair” time. It’s SO easy for me to leave my desk to get a coffee only to end up wandering around my home as I ping from distraction to distraction.

Honestly, I was not avoiding the act of writing. I’d was dying to sit down and tell a story, but my brain (or rather my attention span) had a vastly different agenda.

The Pomodoro Technique is pretty easy. The name just sounds fancy (and possibly expensive). As it turns out—it’s Italian for “tomato”. This is because the person that thought it up had a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato and was Italian. Go figure.

It works like this: (*disclaimer: this is my version of how it works)

  1. Set your timer for 20 minutes (For me, it’s 23 minutes. That’s about as far as I can park my attention.)
  2. For those 20(ish) minutes, you sit in your chair and write.
  3. The timer goes off and you get a 5 to 7-minute That’s when you go grab a coffee, do sit ups or chase the dogs around the kitchen table.
  4. When the break is up, you do another 20-minute interval of writing.
  5. Rinse. Repeat.
  6. At the end of four of these 20-minute sessions, you can schedule a larger break (like 10 to 20 minutes).

The goal of this method is to train yourself to be productive in a shorter span of time and is meant to promote “mental agility” through frequent breaks.

How did it work for me? Pretty well, for the most part. I had some two and three thousand word days there. The result was the final draft in the third book in my Allies and Enemies series. I felt that I had better focus because I could tell myself that whatever distracting thought that bubbled up in the middle of my writing stent (How many seasons of Supernatural have there been anyway? Is house paint flammable? Did I order more contact lenses?) could wait until break time. It was exhausting because I did it for four days straight, which I might not repeat unless I’m under a tight deadline.

Even if you don’t have an actual diagnosis of ADD, the technique might be helpful if you’re trying to make the most of the writing time that you have. I used a customizable app called “30/30” that I found in the Apple store [here]. It’s pretty nifty. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the Pomodoro Technique [here].

(And, in case you’re wondering, I used the technique to finish this blog entry.)


Sucksville: Four Ways to Combat Editing Frumpiness

You’ve finished the first draft of your book. Hooray for you! *Fist bumps all around.*

But if you’re anything like me, you now find yfrumpyourself faced with the dreaded editing phase of your work. I’d rather run and hide. What is it about editing that makes it so hard? Maybe it’s the part where you make yourself sit in one place with your nose pressed into the mess of sentences you thought made sense at the time. Or perhaps it’s the fact that mentally you’ve “moved on” from this story and you’re eager to get going on the first draft of your next book that you can’t stop thinking about.

Even if your end game is to self-publish right away, or send it off to your beta-readers and/or editors for another look, one thing is certain; you have to polish up that prose before releasing it into the wild.

I was born and raised in the South. My mother was the very much a Southern lady, meaning she never left the house without looking her best (hair “done” and full makeup on). Had they been available at the time, yoga pants and giant hoodies would not have been an option. (What would the neighbors think?!)

Blame it on moving to Vermont or laziness on my part, but I’ve since developed my own sense of what’s a fashion do or don’t in terms of personal appearance.

However, when it comes to sending a manuscript out into the wild, perhaps we can all learn a thing or two from Southern fashion sense. Always look your best.

So here are four ideas to combat the editing frumpiness:

  1. Put it away. It may not make sense. But just don’t do the editing. At least not right away. You’ve spent a lot of time working on that manuscript. It’s very likely you’ve been so fully involved in it, you would “see the forest for the trees.” Because of the proximity to the work, you can miss errors great and small. So, give yourself a break from the work. Lock it away on your desktop (or in a filing cabinet if you’re old school) and resist the urge to touch your book for a while. (We’re talking at least a weak.) Use that time to clear your headspace. If something occurs to you during that time, DO NOT touch the manuscript. Write yourself a note that makes sense in your handy dandy notepad that you keep with you as a dutiful author. Consult said notepad when its time to dive back in with a fresh new perspective. Of course, all of this only works if you don’t have a deadline.
  2. Speaking of perspective. Been staring at the computer or the laptop screen for edits? Why not send yourself the file and look at it on your e-reader device (or e-reader app)? It changes your view and will help pick out things that may have been staring you in your face the whole time. Don’t know how to “side load” a file to your reader? Check out these handy-dandy instructions on how to email a doc to your Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email
  3. Entertain your pets. If you’ve decided to dig into the edits and you keep wondering why you don’t like a particular passage, try reading aloud to your dog (or cat). Our internal voices experience things differently from our actual voice. Reading something aloud can help you pick up on awkward word choices or flow that’s not working well.
  4. Go on a (word-loss) diet. I’m calling in a ringer for this one, guys. In her book, The Word-Loss Diet: Professional Self-Editing Techniques for Authors, Rayne Hall outlines some pretty remarkable techniques to tackle the editing process. Some of them are actually kind of fun (once you get over discovering things about your own horrifying overuse of certain words or phrases). Say you’ve reached a point where you think you’ve “caught” all the flubs, but there’s something missing, then this is the book you should try. In fact, her whole Writer’s Craft series is quite awesome. Here’s a link to the Amazon page: https://amzn.com/B00AWA7XEE

If this post didn’t give it away, I’m currently editing my way through the first draft book three of my Allies and Enemies series. With a little luck, it should hit the virtual shelves by mid/late November. So be sure to check back in for updates.

Allies and Enemies: Fallen in Star Heroes Box Set – Now Available!

What do a NY Times, USA Today and a Dragon Award Finalist have in common? This awesome boxset, that’s what!

Launched today, Star Heroes: 9 Novels of Space Exploration and Adventure is a steal at 99¢! (FREE for Kindle Unlimited). If you crave space opera excitement, download it today. img_2540

Star Heroes is a space opera collection with nine novels of the galactic frontier. Exploration, alien invasions, genetic engineering, and artificial intelligence–it’s all here. Blast off with these adventures by New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling authors with one click!

Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker
In this fast-paced space adventure, Captain Alisa Marchenko must brave sadistic savages, fearsome cyborgs, and brutal pirates to steal a ship so she can find her way home.

Starship Eternal by M.R. Forbes
When a critical injury leaves Space Marine Captain Mitchell “Ares” Williams having visions of a lost starship and an alien invasion, he thinks he’s going insane… He isn’t.

Icarus by Matt Verish
Cole Musgrave’s dream of interstellar travel has become a nightmare. When a delivery is compromised aboard a classified cargo vessel, the unorthodox captain finds himself embroiled in a deadly assignment that will alter his life forever.

Attack on Phoenix by Megg Jensen
Two hundred years ago, an interplanetary expedition crashed on a deserted planet. Catching the attention of the dragzhi, an aggressive alien species, they found themselves in a war they were doomed to lose … unless Torsten Vikker, a soldier who’d rather read than fight, can find a way to save them.

Archangel Down by C. Gockel
Commander Noa Sato doesn’t believe in aliens. She’s too busy trying to save the lives of millions and her own skin to ponder the existence of “others.” Fortunately for Noa, aliens believe in her.

Destroyer by Chris Fox
One maverick captain, an unlikely crew, and an aging vessel are all that stand between humanity and the Eradication.

Space Carrier Avalon by Glynn Stewart
Avalon was the first and most legendary of the Castle Federation’s space carriers, but she is now old and obsolete. Accepting the inevitable, she is sent on a final flag-showing tour.
But war clouds gather and this final tour will be anything but quiet.

Symphony of War by David J. Adams
Lieutenant Marcus Servus and his soldiers, a penal legion, stand against insectoid boogeymen from another galaxy. Marcus has a gift. An edge against the monsters: he hears music. Songs in his head guide him, granting him knowledge and foresight, a weapon against the alien hordes. But who plucks the strings?

Allies and Enemies: Fallen by Amy J. Murphy
Purpose-bred soldier of the Regime, Commander Sela Tyron is as subtle as a hammer. To hammers, any problem can look like a nail, but solutions aren’t always that easy. When Sela encounters a son she is forbidden to know, falls in love with a man who is clearly off-limits, and is abandoned on a planet of insurrectionists, things get complicated.

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